Despite Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's “guarantee” that the city of Los Angeles will not go bankrupt, there's a fair amount of evidence demonstrating it's quite possible, at least according to urban-history author and economic journalist Joel Kotkin (via LABizObserved).

Although City Hall's plan to lay off as many as 4,000 employees is a mess that will have a hard time moving forward, Kotkin doesn't blame L.A.'s current payroll for its clouded economic future (which includes a $212 million-and-counting deficit). Rather he says the city's economic time bomb is comprised of fat-cat pensions negotiated by powerful unions.

It's the same problem, he says, that felled General Motors and that has helped to weigh the state of California down with a $20 billion deficit. When workers retire, the city continues to pay them. Sometimes a lot.

“Caifornia and Los Angeles are joined at the hip with many of the same kinds of problems and they're both sinking into the swamp deeper and deeper,” Kotkin states.

LA Weekly